Running a marathon has always been on my bucket list.  I’d like to say it’s because I really enjoy running and find it calming (as I’ve heard so many say) but actually for me it’s much more simple: it’s for the medal.

I’m not a great runner but as a person I’m motivated by ambition, goals and turning the once believed impossible – possible. I’m driven by the metaphorical, or in this case literal, finish line: the applause, the cheering, and the overall results and personal success. The feeling of ‘I’ve done it’!

With such a simple feat, which can inspire even the most inexperienced runner to take on such an enormous challenge, I began to wonder how we can harness this energy for victory, and apply it to our workplace and inspire our teams.  Can running a marathon positively influence our working life?

Despite the potential for burnout, not to mention the risk in my case of pulling a muscle (!), the answer is absolutely, yes.

In fact, a recent study conducted by CV-Library reveals that a staggering 79% of marathon runners said that the training enabled them to commit and focus on their career, while a further 88% said regular exercise improved their overall productivity at work.

While I am by no means suggesting we all sign up to a company marathon tomorrow (oh no!), there’s certainly something to learn here, and also a few skills we can transfer and share with our people:

Resilience. A true test of someone isn’t their achievements but how they respond when things don’t always go to plan.  Training for a marathon isn’t always plain sailing – there will be good days and bad days, and days when we might feel like giving up. But being resilient and able to bounce back is a great talent and something vital to our career success. 

In work we face failure from time to time but if we are resilient we can recognise this, work out what went wrong and how we can improve next time.

Setting Goals. There’s no doubt that running a marathon takes a lot of training.  We set ourselves a challenge and specific goal (26 miles…), and work towards that each week.

Setting ourselves a goal in work and sticking to a specific training plan can help us push ourselves, focus and stay on track for every stage in our career – whether that’s the next 6 months, year, or five years.

Motivation. We’re all familiar with the fact that exercise releases endorphins; a chemical which produces a feeling of happiness and joy. While the thought of running a marathon may seem daunting, the release of this chemical in fact improves our mood, supports our wellbeing and motivates us to carry on.

For employees and employers, motivation is key. It enables us to be productive, focused and determined to achieve our personal and business goals.

Managing your Stress Levels. Even with the strictest regime and training plan, running inevitably takes its toll. Without regular rest days, it can lead to stress, exhaustion and finally burnout.

Our work life can also have similar consequences, especially if we’re juggling responsibilities in the office with family at home. Our Modern Families Index highlighted that for almost 1 in 3 families, burnout is a regular occurrence and over a quarter are taking sick and annual leave to cope. Employers are also feeling the pressure in absenteeism and business continuity – drivers of success.

Being able to manage our stress levels, recognise where the pressure points are and adjust our work and family life accordingly will enable us to reap the rewards in feeling more confident and successful in our endeavours.

Teamwork. Running is often perceived to be a solitary hobby but for many runners, joining a group or team is a great benefit. It enables us to cheer one another on to run that extra mile and celebrate together when a milestone or personal victory is reached! 

Being able to work in a team, support one another through challenges and recognise each other’s achievements is great in creating team spirit and motivating one another. It’s also fantastic at building a positive and supportive company culture and working environment.